What: Outschool is an online learning marketplace where you can teach almost any topic about which you have passion and expertise. 

Expected pay: $10 to $80 an hour

Husl$core: $$$$

Commissions & fees: 30%

Where: Nationwide

Requirements: 18 or older; pass a background check; expertise in your chosen topic.

Review:

Outschool is an online teaching platform that takes a different approach to learning. Instead of teaching a set curriculum and testing against a grade standard, the site encourages teachers to offer classes that spark the imagination. Classes can be offered as single-sessions or as a series, and they may or may not result in improved grades. 

For instance, one class teaches engineering concepts by building Legos. There are history, astronomy and chemistry classes that teach through a Harry Potter lens. One such class, for instance, teaches about how J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World was influenced by WWII and the Holocaust. There are civics and economic lessons taught through Minecraft; and Spanish taught through Taylor Swift songs. 

Like online tutoring, the classes are done through a live internet connection. However, instead of having just one student, you could have many. Teachers set their per-pupil class price and determine how many students can attend each class.

The teacher’s earnings depend on how much they’ve chosen to charge per pupil and the number of students who sign up. Typically teachers charge around $12-$15 per hour per learner and can open their classes to between one and 18 students. The site does the advertising, booking and payment collection in exchange for a 30% fee paid by teacher.

Popularity pays

That can lead to great — or really bad — hourly pay.

If, for example, you designed a class and only one child attended, your hourly pay could be miserable. After all, it probably took you several hours to develop the curriculum before presenting the class. Add that to the hour you spend teaching and your $15 per student rate is going to net you $11.50 after site commissions. If it took you three hours to prepare and teach, that works out to just under $4 an hour.

That said, if your classes prove popular, you can earn very generous pay. The teacher of the Lego engineering series estimates that she earns about $60 an hour, even after accounting for prep time. 

The dark side

The only complaint we’ve consistently heard about this platform is that teacher support can be AWOL. Site founder Amir Nathoo admits this has been a problem, particularly since the Coronavirus crisis closed traditional classrooms. The site’s student sign-ups have doubled in just the past few months, which has overwhelmed customer support. He’s hired 10 new customer service agents, and hopes to solve that soon. 

Classes must approved by the site, but that’s more to keep out inappropriate content than to dictate curriculum, says Nathoo. Payments are made to teachers usually a week following the start of class.

Recommendations: 

If you have an imaginative take on learning, we think this site could be a great place to test it out. Once you’ve developed a viable curriculum, you might also want to place your class on other teaching platforms, such as Thinkific and Teachable, where you tape your lessons.

With taped teaching platforms, you do the class once with no live audience. Students can book the class at any time and learn on their own. That can provide a nice source of passive income. However, the up-front work is substantial, if you haven’t developed and tested your curriculum elsewhere.

What their users say: (from Indeed)

“This company takes a whopping 30% of class fees from the teacher. The services provided to the teacher from the company is marketing and a teaching forum (the virtual classroom). The marketing part is very useful, but the teaching forum is something any skilled teacher can provide themselves. That said, a 30% cut SHOULD cover not only the marketing and the virtual platform, but also support for teachers and a virtual platform with far less glitches than this one has (i.e., classes that don’t meet the minimum enrollment are not cancelled so the hourly pay is severely reduced to as low as $8/hr., among other things).”

“As picky as they are about class outlines you would think if an instructor asked repeatedly for assistance with concerns over a months time someone would respond, at least once!”

“To be successful on the platform, most people wind up devoting 5-10 hours a week to test out different ideas on the platform. Once you’ve attracted your initial student base, it’s possible to grow full-time. However, if you’re looking for a guaranteed income with opportunities for benefits, Outschool is not the platform for you. The most difficult part of the job is navigating the platform’s seasonality. Summers tend to be slow. It’s important to be creative while planning ahead.”

“I’ve worked as a teacher at Outschool for two years now and have amassed a following of over 4000 families without spending one dollar on advertising. It can be a bit stressful to get reviewed and rated constantly by parents but it is also a fast indicator to let you know whether the job of “independent online educator” is right for you. I have complete control of my schedule and subject matter, while also making about $70 per hour.”